Police have released video footage of a man who stole a taxi outside Gatwick Airport and drove at speeds in excess of 130mph in a police pursuit and continued even after losing a tyre.
Mohammed Ahmed took the Mercedes taxi after another taxi driver had declined to take him outside the south terminal of the West Sussex airport on September 17 last year.
After driving off, the 24-year-old was tracked by the National Police Air Service (NPAS) helicopter to his home town of Walsall in the West Midlands – more than 150 miles from Gatwick – where he was finally arrested.
A Sussex Police spokesman said that during the pursuit on the M25 and M40, Ahmed drove into cordoned off areas of roadworks and continued to drive at more than 100mph after losing a tyre after police had used a tyre deflation device.
Describing the chase, he said: “One taxi had declined to take him, and footage then showed Ahmed approach the driver’s side of another unattended parked taxi.
“The owner had gone inside momentarily to collect a fare, and had left keys in the ignition.
“Ahmed took the vehicle, and later attended the victim’s address to discard identification documents before driving off at speed.
“Officers from Surrey and Sussex Roads Policing Unit were alerted to the vehicle on the M23 and attempted to safely stop Ahmed.
“But he drove dangerously, swerving in the road and reaching dangerously high speeds as he drove onto the M25.
“The NPAS helicopter tracked the vehicle from the M25 to the M40, then the M42 and M6.
“Ahmed reached the A34 and was still driving at speeds of 70mph in a 30mph zone, going the wrong way around roundabouts, through red lights, and on the wrong side of the road into oncoming traffic.”
Speaking after the case Detective Inspector Darren Lillywhite said: “Ahmed had been refused a fare when he decided to take the taxi outside the South Terminal.
“His driving was so reckless that police were not able to continue pursuing him because of the risk it posed to other road users and officers.
“Our colleagues from NPAS tracked him, and fortunately our colleagues from Warwickshire Police RPU were able to catch him and make the arrest.
“Ahmed is very lucky not to have caused serious harm to either himself, our officers, or other road users. His driving was appalling.”
At Lewes Crown Court, Ahmed was given a 14-month suspended prison sentence and banned from driving for 18 months for aggravated vehicle taking and dangerous driving.
He was also ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work, complete 15 Rehabilitation Activity Requirement (RAR) sessions and pay £841.53 in compensation to the taxi driver.
He must also pay £425 court costs and a victim surcharge of £187.